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Rhode Island Gun Control Laws

There are minimal federal regulations on gun purchases and ownership (see the ATF's explanation of the National Firearms Act), as most gun control laws are enforced at the state level. This is a hotly debated topic in the U.S., often pitting public safety concerns against federal constitutional rights.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution originally protected the rights of citizens to defend themselves against an invading army. It has since been interpreted much more broadly to include general protection.

State gun control laws vary by state and by region, often along ideological lines. While some states require gun purchasers to wait a certain period of time before taking ownership of a gun, other states have as few restrictions as is federally allowed.

Rhode Island Gun Control Laws at a Glance

A summary of Rhode Island's gun control laws is in the table below.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

State of Rhode Island General Laws, Title 11, Chapter 47, Sections 11-47-1 through 11-47-63

Illegal Arms

The following items are illegal in Rhode Island:
  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Sawed-off rifles
  • Bump stocks
  • Silencers
  • Armor-piercing bullets
  • Machine guns

Waiting Period

Rhode Island requires a 7-day waiting period between the application to purchase a firearm and delivery of the firearm to the purchaser.

Who May Not Own

In Rhode Island, it is illegal to own or possess if a person:
  • Has been convicted of a crime of violence
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Has entered a plea of "no contest" to, or been convicted of, a felony domestic violence offense or specific misdemeanor domestic violence offense
  • Is the subject of a protective order
  • Is in community confinement or is otherwise subject to electronic surveillance or monitoring devices as a condition of parole
  • Is under guardianship, treatment, or confinement for being mentally incompetent
  • Has been adjudicated or is under treatment or confinement as a drug addict
  • Is an unnaturalized foreign-born person who is in the United States illegally

License Required?

A license is not required to own a firearm. However, a safety certificate from the Department of Environmental Management is required to purchase a handgun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

A concealed carry license is required to carry a concealed handgun in Rhode Island.

Open Carry Allowed?

Open carry is prohibited without a permit.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To be eligible for a license to carry, a person must be:
  • 21 years old
  • Have a bona fide residence or place of business within the city or town where the person is applying or a concealed carry license from another state
  • Have a good reason to fear an injury to their person or property or have any other proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver
  • Have a certification that they qualified with a pistol or revolver of a caliber equal to or larger than the one they intend to carry

Machine Gun Laws

Rhode Island law generally prohibits the possession of machine guns.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

Rhode Island has extensive gun control laws, and the penalties for violations vary. Common offenses and punishments are:
  • Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and up to a $1,000 fine
  • Carrying a gun without a license is punishable by imprisonment for 1 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Possessing a machine gun is punishable by imprisonment for 1 to 10 years and a fine up $10,000
  • Possessing a sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle is punishable by imprisonment for up 10 years and a fine of up to $5,000

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Possessing a firearm on school grounds is punishable by imprisonment for 1 to 5 years and a fine of $500 to $5,000.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Learn More About Rhode Island Gun Control Laws

Are you facing a criminal charge for illegal gun possession? Do you have questions about your eligibility to own a gun? An attorney licensed in Rhode Island can answer these questions and more.

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